A shocking new photo of the Queen is causing alarm

Buckingham Palace has released a new image of the Queen during a recent engagement, and her altered appearance is nothing short of alarming.

Say what you want of Her Majesty the Queen, but she’s not a woman inclined to shock the world.

She never had a long affair with her supposed riding instructor (Diana, Princess of Wales); vacationing in the south of France and without a bikini top (Sarah Ferguson, Duchess of York and Kate, Duchess of Cambridge); been photographed totally austere (Prince Charles also in France); fell in love with a staff member while still married (Princess Anne) or went to Las Vegas on a bender and ended up playing pool with a bunch of blond strangers (who other than Prince Harry).

However, on Thursday a new photo of the 96-year-old was released and it is nothing short of alarming.

On paper the image, showing the monarch meeting NSW Governor Margaret Beazley, is par for the course for the very boring course.

Taken in the Oak Room at Windsor Castle where the Queen now lives full-time, it resembles some 6,743 other photos released by Buckingham Palace: Her Majesty in pearls and a cheerful floral number saluting a dignitary who offers a slightly wobbly bow . or steep bow.

No, what is really striking here is Her Majesty’s very disturbing appearance.

Look at Thursday’s photo of the Queen, then compare it to a photo taken almost exactly a year ago, when the then Prime Minister Scott Morrison visitedand the difference is really surprising.

Over the next 12 months, Her Majesty would appear to have become noticeably more stooped, much leaner, and overall appears to have shrunk.

For years, the Queen seemed to have achieved the impossible and didn’t seem to age like a Dorian Grey-esque ruler. (I wonder how many paintings she might have in the castle’s vast attic?)

Photos of her strolling behind the wheel, astride her horses through her various estates and undertaking engagements without any help abounded. Age, in sum, didn’t seem to matter when it came to England’s 61st sovereign. (And she’s the 12th from a united England and Scotland.)

As recently as 2020, the Palace let a photographer capture their clip around Windsor on one of their favorite fallen ponies aged 94.

It may have been all the organic salmon she ate, caught on her own Scottish estate, but whatever the secret, the Queen seemed to have the drive and vigor of a woman decades younger.

It would have been easy to believe she could surpass the Queen Mother who turned 101 and who in the last year of her life visited an aircraft carrier in Portsmouth and went on to hold house parties.

Even the death of Her Majesty’s ‘strength and stay’ Prince Philip in April last year, while personally devastating, appeared to have no physical impact.

In May, the Queen opened Parliament. In June, she hosted US President Joe Biden and his wife, Dr Jill Biden, attended a mini Trooping the Color and traveled to the G7 summit. (Let’s never forget the wonderful photo we got on that getaway of her wielding a sword to cut a cake.)

Later the same month she set off for Scotland, meeting Prime Minister Nicola Sturgeon, trotting confidently through a wood on an official engagement.

Then it was time for Royal Ascot where the Queen looked, as usual, much happier than we normally see her.

July saw the return of the Windsor Horse Show, Her Majesty’s personal nirvana, which she attended for several days, even riding there one day, pink lippie in place.

Note that over all of this, while she set virtually no land speed records, she walked unaided and confidently, her agility belying her very advanced age.

In August, the Queen decamped to Balmoral for her usual long break dressed in tartan, with reports that she had taken her four great-granddaughters Tindall and Phillips on a picnic.

In September, she returned to work, and the palace announced she was ready for a busy October.

She left, opening the Scottish parliament, then later the same month she also did the honors of opening the Welsh parliament called the Senedd.

When she showed up at Westminster Abbey, with Princess Anne, she appeared, for the first time since undergoing knee surgery in 2003, with a cane. Still, she racked up 16 official engagements that month.

After discovering that old magazine wanted to name her Oldie of the Year, she “politely but firmly” declined the award, stating, “You’re only as old as you feel.”

On October 19, she hosted a who’s who of billionaires and tech moguls at a reception for an investment summit at Windsor Castle, spending more than an hour on her feet.

According to Time“Before her guests arrived, the Queen and her closest aides had agreed on a secret sign to lead her away from the reception if she felt she was fading, but the coded signal was not necessary. “

The following day, this energetic streak came to a dramatic and overwhelming halt.

First, it was announced that she would not be undertaking a two-day tour of Northern Ireland and take it easy for two weeks on doctor’s orders, before it was announced the Queen was withdraw from the COP26 climate conference. (She was also mysteriously hospitalized that month overnightan event the palace clumsily tried to keep secret.)

Almost every month since then, Her Majesty has stepped back from previously non-negotiable events.

In November it was watch the ceremony at the cenotaph on Remembrance Day, December appearing at church alongside her family on Christmas Day, February, she contracted Covid which saw her cancel the annual diplomatic reception, in March, she retired from Commonwealth Day service and in April she had Charles will take up his official duties on Maundy Thursday.

Come May and for the first time in nearly 60 years, Her Majesty delegated the official opening of Parliament to Charles with Prince William in sidekick mode before it was announced that Her Majesty would not be attending any garden parties at Buckingham Palace.

When the Sovereign’s Jubilee festivities began, Her Majesty was absent at the service of thanksgiving for her reign at St Paul’s.

Just last week, we took another dismal step, with the The Queen has not been to Royal Ascot once – breaking a 70-year dating streak.

There have also been reports that Her Majesty has given up her nightly drink, no longer rides and hasn’t been seen in the driver’s seat for the better part of a year.

Likewise, his very mysterious health issues seem to have worsened considerably.

In October she first appeared with a cane, only using it at certain times, but by June this year her ‘episodic mobility problems’ had become such that the world never saw Her Majesty that for a total of 27 minutes over the four days of her Platinum Jubilee Celebrations.

(In 2021, Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced that $49.5 million would be set aside for the Jubilee, which is to say it costs British taxpayers $1.8 million for every minute they have seen the Queen on the balcony of Buckingham Palace.)

How did things get so bad, so fast? How in a year have we seen the Queen stop riding horses, walking her dogs and driving her Range Rovers to her, who would now use a wheelchair on occasion? (It was reported earlier this year that Craigowan Lodge, a cabin on the Balmoral Estate where she stays twice a year, has now been fitted with a wheelchair-friendly lift.)

What Thursday’s photo shows is that Her Majesty appears to be fading before our eyes and yet Buckingham Palace is trying to stick to its increasingly tired ‘nothing to see here’ line.

To be fair, helpers are in a sticky spot. They can hardly come out and offer the press a running commentary on anything that might make them sick or offer some kind of detailed rundown on the sickness of the day that caused their latest cancellation.

Moreover, Her Majesty, like all human beings, deserves dignity and privacy.

So how do courtiers maintain some public visibility of the Queen, which includes posting images of the Queen on a regular basis, without freaking people out when she appears noticeably more frail? How do they balance the needs of Her Majesty as a person against the needs of the institution she leads?

This current paradigm does the monarchy a disservice. One of the consequences of the Prince Andrew and Megxit crises is that the palace has, in part, looked strange and secretive. For this reason, Cabinet simply cannot afford to mishandle this situation.

This catch-22 is only going to become a more pressing issue as time goes on and the palace has to find a way to at least try to balance all of these competing needs.

The silver lining here? The Queen appears to be in high spirits as the countdown begins for her annual Scottish summer vacation. Maybe someone is excited to get their hands on some more salmon.

Daniela Elser is a royal pundit and writer with over 15 years of experience working with a number of top media titles in Australia.

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